Alan Grayson's Journal
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Congressman Steve Israel has contributed this video statement to our "Fight Corporate Smears" Moneybomb:
Hi, I'm Steve Israel. I'm the Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. As chairman of DCCC, my job is to win 25 seats and a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. And I have to tell you, the road to our majority goes right through the State of Florida.
And that means we've got to send Alan Grayson back to Congress. I know Alan. He is a tenacious and tireless champion for the Middle Class and for seniors. He's going to fight every day to create jobs, to grow the economy, to protect Medicare and Social Security, strengthen small businesses.
And he's been very busy ensuring that Democrats across the country have the resources to win.
But right now, Alan needs your support. Republicans are making Alan a major target this year because they know that he'll fight their extreme, right-wing agenda that puts the special interests, big corporations and the ultra-wealthy first, at the expense of the Middle Class.
So I hope you'll join me in supporting Alan Grayson so that he can fight back against the Republicans' smear campaign and special interest attacks. Any amount you contribute will ensure that Alan Grayson returns to a Democratic majority in Congress.
Go to www.CongressmanWithGuts.com, and thank you so much.
Onward to Victory,
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sat Jun 23, 2012, 02:27 PM (11 replies)
Today we launch the Grayson Moneybomb, enlisting your help to fight corporate smears. Alan Grayson’s district in Orlando already has been inundated with special-interest propaganda and right-wing lies on TV. This week’s Moneybomb will give Alan the help that he needs to fight back.
We have invited important Democratic leaders to contribute Moneybomb videos to show their support for Alan. Today’s video comes from Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA). Rep. Becerra is the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, and former head of the Hispanic Caucus. This is what he has to say:
Hi, this is Congressman Xavier Becerra from Los Angeles, California. Do you want to make a difference in November? Do you want Congress to once again work for the American people? Do you want to put Americans back to work? Well then do me a favor. Get out there and support Alan Grayson for Congress.
We need people who will champion the working men and the working women of America. We need people who will understand that the Middle Class is what built this country.
If you help Alan Grayson, you help all of America. Get out there. November’s important. Make it count.
Please answer Rep. Becerra’s call. Help our campaign spread the truth, and beat back the lies. Contribute to our Fight Corporate Smears Moneybomb today.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Jun 22, 2012, 06:49 PM (8 replies)
I’m asking you to contribute to our campaign today for a reason that you might not . . . expect. It’s to keep Mitt Romney’s dog safe.
Unless you have been visiting relatives in Atlantis for the last few months, you may have heard about Mitt Romney’s Irish setter Seamus. Mitt Romney caged Seamus, strapped the cage to the roof of his car, and then drove Seamus 650 miles, from Massachusetts to Ontario. During the ride, Seamus developed diarrhea. Romney calmly drove into a gas station, hosed off Seamus, the cage and the car windows, and continued his trek. Even though Romney’s dog was as sick as a dog.
It’s good to know that if America ever has a dog-on-the-roof-plus-excrement crisis, at least one person will know how to deal with it.
I have been reminded of this Romney escapade many times recently, because virtually every time that I go to any website, I see an ad for “Pet Lovers for Obama.” And I don’t even have a dog. (Note to White House: check ad targeting parameters.)
The President’s outreach to dog-lovers notwithstanding, we nevertheless must face the possibility that Mitt Romney may become President. I ask you not to think about what that means for America. I ask you to think about what that means for Mitt Romney’s dog.
He’ll be tied to the trunk of the limousine that carries Mitt Romney down Pennsylvania Avenue to his inauguration. (Romney’s inauguration, not the dog’s.)
He’ll be tied to the roof of the helicopter that carries Romney to Camp David. Just under the blades.
He’ll be tied to the top of Air Force One, as it hurtles through the air at 600 miles an hour, six miles above the ground. That would be enough to give anyone the runs.
In fact, as I said on MSNBC a few weeks ago, I don’t think that Mitt Romney will be happy until Romney has America strapped to the top of his car.
These are all terrible thoughts, I know. But you can help make sure that none of this ever comes to be – by contributing to our campaign.
Why our campaign? Because our district is: (a) in Florida, and (b) on the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. If President Obama wins Florida, then Romney loses the race. And if President Obama wins the I-4 corridor, then President Obama wins Florida.
Every single day, including Saturdays and Sundays, we have dozens of canvassers going door to door. They are encouraging unregistered Democrats to register, encouraging Democrats who have changed addresses to re-register, signing up Democrats to vote by mail if they want to, and spreading the word about what the Republicans will do to our Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Explaining that with Romney as top dog, America will become a dog’s breakfast, a dog-eat-dog world.
America will go to the dogs.
Will the Obama campaign be doing this here as well? I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet, as I told Vice President Biden a few days ago. But I do know that we are signing up a lot of Grayson voters. They will not only help to win our race, but also will help to keep the White House and the Senate.
And help keep Mitt Romney’s dog safe.
So if you care about Mitt Romney’s dog, if you care about puppies and kittens and little babies and cotton candy, you really have no choice. You have to contribute to our campaign. And you have to do it today. So click on that button below.
No animals were harmed in the making of this e-mail.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Wed Jun 20, 2012, 02:45 PM (4 replies)
People often picture a tsunami as a towering wall of water slamming into the shore, as in the movies "2012" or "Deep Impact."
Generally, that's not the way it works. Instead, a tsunami is like a super-tide, rising so fast that it can engulf you in minutes, if not seconds.
And the water is a tsunami usually isn't normal sea water. It's filthy sludge, filled with debris.
And that is what we are going to see between now and November on our TV screens and web browsers: a fast-rising tide of filthy, sludgy right-wing propaganda, threatening to drown us all. Dirty Money.
I looked at the list of donors of $500,000 or more to Super PACs, as of the last reporting period. There are 84 such donors. Ten are unions; we'll set them aside, because they are simply aggregating the support of their 15 million members. (By the way, the unions' grand total was only $16 million, which may not even be enough to fund Elizabeth Warren's campaign.) That leaves 74 major Super PAC donors.
Here is the score: Right-Wingers 64, Progressives 10.
It's actually worse than that, because the average contribution of the right-wingers was larger than the average contributions of progressives.
The total of Super PAC contributions by the ten progressives was $10.7 million. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that Sheldon Adelson alone already has spent three times as much.
Of the $10.7 million in contributions from progressive Super PAC donors, $6.1 million went to support the Obama campaign. That left $4.5 million for the other 500,000 Democrats running for office, or $9 each. (Yes, there actually are that many elective offices in the United States.)
$4.5 million? For the Koch Brothers, that's no more than a nice tip. A gratuity. A small token of their appreciation. Just a little something.
I don't know why this should surprise anyone. When a progressive spends that kind of money, it's out of the goodness of his heart, and how many people are that good? When a right-winger spends that kind of money, though, it's an investment: an investment in tax breaks, bailouts, government contracts, earmarks, regulatory exemptions and lax law enforcement.
With all due respect to Oliver Stone and Gordon Gekko, I don't know whether "greed is good," but it sure is rich. And powerful.
The U.S. Supreme Court has created a system of campaign finance where dirty money is king. Just watch in the next few months as that tsunami of dirty money washes over the American political landscape.
In my campaign, we're trying to do things differently. We have to, because I won't sell out. And necessity is the mother of invention.
I'm counting on you. Will it work? You tell me.
"Christ, you know it ain't easy.
You know how hard it can be.
The way things are going,
They're gonna crucify me."
- John Lennon, "The Ballad of John and Yoko" (1969).
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Jun 18, 2012, 05:16 PM (1 replies)
Congressman Charlie Rangel often says that the last bad day he had was way back in 1950. Let me explain what he means by that.
Rangel joined the US Army at 18. He was assigned to the segregated, all-African-American 503rd Field Artillery Battalion. His nickname was “Sarge,” which was funny, because Rangel actually was a private first class, not a sergeant.
On November 27, 1950, Rangel’s commander, General Douglas MacArthur, learned that the Chinese Army was about to surround America’s Eighth Army. MacArthur ordered the Eighth Army to retreat. But that could happen only if American units held off the Chinese forces on the Eighth Army’s right flank. Charlie Rangel’s unit was given that suicide mission, in what became known as the Battle of Kunu-Ri.
The Chinese Army quickly surrounded Rangel’s unit. His unit kept fighting.
Sundown brought less shooting, but also bitter cold. The temperature dropped below zero. Even at night, the Chinese Army’s bugle orders rang out, and the night sky was lit by Chinese flares. Rangel called it a “waking nightmare.” He kept fighting.
Having the high ground, the Chinese Army pounded Rangel’s unit with artillery fire. On the third day, an explosion sent shrapnel into Rangel’s back. The shrapnel hit him so hard that he was tossed into a ditch. He kept fighting.
Rangel and his unit could hear American soldiers screaming and moaning. They could hear American soldiers being taken prisoner. Rangel said, “We couldn’t see any possible way out of the situation.” They could have surrendered. But they didn’t.
Rangel and his unit were trapped behind enemy lines for three days of heavy fighting. After three terrible days, under cover of darkness, Charlie Rangel, sleepless, wounded, bleeding and freezing, led 40 American soldiers to safety.
Half of Rangel’s battalion died in the fighting. Rangel spent a long time in the hospital, recuperating. For his courage and leadership, he was awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, two Presidential Unit Citations, and three battle stars.
And Charlie Rangel was awarded a certain perspective on life itself. As Charlie always says, “Since Kunu-ri, I have never, never had a bad day.”
One week from Tuesday, Congressman Charles Rangel faces the voters in the New York Democratic Primary. National Public Radio calls it Rangel’s “toughest reelection challenge” since he won the seat in 1970.
Win or lose, it won’t be a bad day for him. Not after what he went through at Kunu-ri. But I want it to be a good day for him. That’s why I’m helping him, and why you should, too. Click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Sun Jun 17, 2012, 08:45 PM (25 replies)
One of the most interesting things about serving in Congress is getting to know other Members. Many of them are traveling on arcs through life that are, frankly, fascinating. Some of them are living, breathing lessons in human nature, and human potential. Take Charlie Rangel, for instance.
Charlie Rangel was born in Harlem, probably the poorest neighborhood in New York. His father Ralph worked as a laborer, when he worked at all. Ralph was frequently unemployed. Ralph would just disappear for long periods. When Ralph was home, he abused his wife and children. It’s hard to say whether they were better off with Ralph or without him. But that’s not something that Charlie Rangel had to think about after the age of six, when his father Ralph left for good.
Charlie Rangel had to go to work when he was eight years old. He worked in a drug store. He often missed school. The police sometimes picked him up off the street, and drove him home.
At the age of 16, Charlie Rangel dropped out of school. He went to work in a shoe store.
Charlie Rangel was going nowhere. Fast.
He joined the military at 18, and was shipped off to fight in the Korean War. On some mountain in Korea, he was surrounded by the Chinese, took shrapnel in the back, and almost froze to death. (More on that another time.)
Charlie Rangel made it back from behind enemy lines – barely – and spent a long time in a hospital bed, recovering.
And then, somehow, everything changed for him. Maybe he realized how precious life is, when he almost lost his life.
Charlie Rangel finished his last two years of high school in one year. He made the Dean’s List in college. He earned a full scholarship to law school. He joined the Civil Rights Movement, marching from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama. He was elected to the New York State Assembly, where he was so popular and so effective that both the Democrats and the Republicans nominated him for re-election.
Imagine that happening today.
Then, in 1970, Charlie Rangel was elected to Congress. Where he has served ever since.
Charlie Rangel, that child of the ghetto, that fatherless dropout, that juvenile delinquent, that bedridden, wounded, crippled young man, is now the 20th longest-serving Member of Congress in history.
Anybody can do anything.
Politics being politics, four people are running against Charlie Rangel in New York’s June 26th primary. Last time, it was five. In a recent debate one opponent referred to Rangel, who is 82 years old, as “antiquated.”
Well, I know Charlie Rangel. He is like a fine wine. He gets better with age.
I want to serve with Charlie Rangel in Congress next year because his life means something to me. It proves something to me. That anybody can do anything.
Help us both. Click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Jun 15, 2012, 02:41 PM (0 replies)
The Federal Reserve just released its Survey of Consumer Finances, the only government survey of wealth in America. The Survey is conducted every three years. This survey, conducted in 2010, is the first one to reflect the effects of the Wall Street Meltdown in 2008.
How does it look? Bad. Really, really bad.
The median wealth of American families (meaning half above and half below) dropped from $126,400 in 2007 all the way down to $77,300 in 2010. That's a 39% slide. It puts the median net worth of American families at its lowest level since 1995, fifteen years earlier.
About 12% of American families have a negative net worth. Meaning that they're broke.
Among Americans with no high school diploma (15 percent of the adult population), median wealth plunged from $34,800 in 2007 to $16,100 in 2010, a 54% drop. That is the lowest level since at least the Fed's 1983 survey, maybe earlier. So three decades of progress have been wiped out.
Among minorities, median wealth plunged from $29,700 to $20,400. That is the lowest level since 1992. White median wealth is now 540% higher than minority median wealth.
The median value of American homes dove from $209,500 in 2007 to $170,000 in 2010. But the median mortgage was almost completely unchanged: $74,700 in 2007, $74,100 in 2010. So debt payments increased from 7% of income to 11% of income.
In 2007, the bottom 25% had a net worth of $14,800 or less. In 2010, the bottom 25% had a net worth of $8,300 or less, a 44% decline.
In 2007, the top 10% had a net worth of $955,600 or more. In 2010, the top 10% had a net worth of $952,500, a decline of less than 1%.
Let me sum it up for you: In the greatest economic crisis that the United States has faced since the Great Depression, the rich barely lost a nickel. But the poor definitely got poorer. And people in the middle were crushed.
If this continues any longer, then we can invite a priest to administer last rites to the American Middle Class.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Jun 14, 2012, 11:37 AM (22 replies)
A few days ago, I was stuck in the car for a long drive. Because of the complete absence of progressive talk from Orlando's airwaves, I had no real choice but to listen to the nasal maundering of Mark Levin on the radio. Levin was very upset about the federal deficit.
Interestingly, Levin was a high-level appointee in the Reagan Administration. Dick Cheney, who was Reagan's Defense Secretary and later the Vice President, said 10 years ago that "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."
I must concede that it is rather difficult to reconcile the conflicting statements of these two gentlemen, Messrs. Levin and Cheney. Evidently, they believe deficits are a terrible tragedy when a Democrat is President, and a wonderful gift when a Republican is President.
There has got to be a more objective standard than that.
Here's one: the federal deficit is a problem when long-term interest rates are high, and not much of a problem when long-term interest rates are low. The Federal Reserve dictates short-term interest rates, but long-term rates still are, pretty much, set by the market, in its usual ruthless fashion. (Which is why James Carville said that after he dies, he "want to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.")
When long-term interest rates are high, a federal deficit competes against and "crowds out" private borrowing and investment. When long-term interest rates are low, the federal deficit is not taking away from borrowing by the private sector. On the contrary, the federal deficit is acting as a needed boost to aggregate demand in the economy, an action also known as "fiscal policy." When the economy is slack, every dollar of reduction in federal spending takes three or four dollars off of our gross national product.
So, by that test, where are we? Well, as I explained last week, long-term U.S. interest rates are at their lowest in history. So what does that tell you about the deficit?
Sorry – I didn't mention that there was going to be a quiz.
When Ronald Reagan was President, long-term interest rates sometimes exceeded 15% – ten times as high as long-term interest rates today. The market was screaming at the top of its lungs that the Reagan deficit was too high. And today? Silence.
Look around the world. The ten-year note in Greece yields a little less than 30%. Pakistan, 13%. Portugal and Venezuela, 12%. In those countries, the bond market is shouting, "Cut that out!"
Thanks to all the deficit-mongering by Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Fox "News," etc., a lot of Americans are scared by the federal deficit. The advice from Democratic pollsters is to go along with this hand-wringing. But there is an alternative: Explain to the American people when a federal deficit is bad, and when it is not.
Like I just did.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Fri Jun 8, 2012, 05:34 PM (12 replies)
As I mentioned on MSNBC last night, today marks 11 years since the Bush tax breaks for the rich were enacted. President George W. Bush signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act on June 7, 2001.
Bush claimed (as right-wingers always do) that tax breaks for the rich would create jobs in the private sector. Well, they haven't. There were 110 million private sector jobs in America in 2001. There are 110 million private sector jobs in America today. Despite a population increase of more than 25 million, there are no more private sector jobs today than when the Bush tax breaks for the rich became law.
In the past 11 years, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased from 33 million to 44 million. The number of Americans receiving food stamps has risen from 18 million to 46 million. "Trickle-down" has not even been a trickle.
But what could we expect? We didn't give tax breaks to the poor; we gave tax breaks to the rich. And for the rich, the past 11 years has been one long party. According to the Paris School of Economics, the top 1% in America saw their share of national income increase by more than 13% from 2001 to 2010. The top 0.1% saw their share of income increase by 20%. The top 0.01% saw their share of income explode by more than 37%, from 2.4% of all of the income in America to 3.3%.
The Bush tax breaks for the rich have yielded the most unequal distribution of wealth in American history, more unequal even than that of 1929, just before the Great Depression.
The lurch toward inequality started decades ago; the Bush tax breaks for the rich only accelerated it. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, since 1979, income for the top 1% has increased by $700,000 a year, while income for the bottom 90% has declined by $900 a year. Between 1992 and 2007, income for the richest 400 Americans increased by 392%, as their taxes dropped by 37%.
You see where this is going. The end-game of the Bush tax breaks for the rich is the end of the middle class in America. No jobs, no healthcare, no pensions, no home equity, no higher education. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer.
The Bush tax breaks are due to expire in a few months. We are at a fork in the road.
No more tax breaks for the rich. No. No. No. No.
"The rich get richer and the poor get laid off.
In the meantime, in between time,
Ain't we got fun?"
– Van & Schenck, "Ain't We Got Fun" (1921)
Posted by Alan Grayson | Thu Jun 7, 2012, 01:16 PM (14 replies)
I'm not exactly a fan of the Tea Party. When a debate among Republican candidates was marred by Tea Party members in the audience urging the uninsured to die, I called that "sadism." I said on national TV that: "It's the same impulse that led people in the Coliseum to cheer when the lions ate the Christians."
The year before, I said that teabaggers attending a Glenn Beck rally "were wearing sheets over their heads 25 years ago."
At around the same time, when a reporter compared Ron Paul libertarians to Tea Party members, I said: "Many of the libertarians are physicists, and many of the Tea Party people don't bathe. There's really not much in common there."
Nevertheless, there is one thing that I like about the Tea Party:
They get their people nominated. And often elected.
I had a ring-side seat to a Tea Party take-out in 2010, because I served on the same House Committee as Mike
Castle, a Republican candidate for the Senate. Castle had been the Governor of Delaware for eight years. Then he served nine terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the ninth most-Democratic state in America, Republican Castle won every House race after his first one by at least 17 points.
But the Tea Party deemed Castle disturbingly normal. So they dumped him in favor of Christine O'Donnell, who is not a witch. At least she says that she is not a witch.
Here are some other things that Christine O'Donnell said:
"It's not enough to be abstinent with other people. You also have to be abstinent alone." On the same subject: "If he already knows what pleases him and he can please himself, then why am I in the picture?"
"One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar."
"There is just as much, if not more, evidence supporting" creationism as evolution. "You know what? Evolution is a myth."
Having women in the military "cripples the readiness of our defense."
"American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals, and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains."
Christine O'Donnell didn't pay her taxes. She didn't pay her mortgage. She used campaign contributions to pay her rent. She lied to the Federal Election Commission. She lied about her education.
And yet, for all of that, Christine O'Donnell defeated Mike Castle. Because for Tea Party members, all that mattered was that Christine O'Donnell was a Tea Party member, and Mike Castle was not.
Same thing with Robert Bennett and Mike Lee, in Utah. Same thing with Trey Grayson (no relation) and Rand Paul, in Kentucky. Same thing with Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock, in Indiana. The Tea Party puts its own people in, and puts everyone else out.
I respect that.
I want to see more progressive Democrats in office. Not only more Democrats, but better Democrats.Tomorrow, there are primary races in California and New Mexico. There are good Progressives in many of those races, and they need our help to pull this off. I have told you a little bit about three of them:
Norman Solomon, who had an FBI file when he was 14. (I didn't tell you about the time that Solomon stood in the path of a freight train that had a nuclear weapon on board.)
Eric Griego, who grew up dirt-poor, and hasn't forgotten what that was like. (I didn't tell you that when Griego was asked to identify the most important issue today, he didn't say jobsjobsjobsjobsjobs like everyone else, but rather the iron control that corporate special interests have over politics and government.)
Lee Rogers, a distinguished doctor, professor and medical researcher. (I didn't tell you what an utter dirtbag Rogers is running against.)
The Tea Party puts worse and worse Republicans in Congress – selfish, bigoted tools. The only way that we can counter that is for us to put better Democrats in Congress, Democrats who will fight for justice, equality and peace.
These primaries are tomorrow. If you want to help, then click here.
Posted by Alan Grayson | Mon Jun 4, 2012, 06:32 PM (6 replies)